The immediate aftermath of any accident can be scary. Most people, at least initially, are in a state of shock. The first thing anyone involved in an accident should do is to assist those who may be injured. After providing any immediate assistance to those who may be injured, the next most important thing to do is to call 911 or the police so that appropriate emergency personnel are called to the scene to provide professional medical attention to those in need.
After attending to those who are injured, one of the most important things you can do is to document the accident scene. Failure to obtain proper documentation at the time of the incident is a major mistake I see many victims make. Documentation when and where the collision occurred is important for many reasons. For one thing, you can never recreate it again. Your memory of what happened fades over time so you want to get as much documentation as possible while your memory is still fresh.
The best way to document the accident is to make sure the police are called to the scene. Anytime the police are summoned to something like an automobile collision they will conduct an investigation. The police are trained to investigate accidents and are, for the most part, good at documenting what happened. In most instances, they will obtain written statements from all parties involved in the crash and any eye witnesses. After completing the investigation, the officer(s) prepare an accident report. The report typically includes: the written statements, a diagram of the accident scene, contact information of witnesses and important insurance information. Even though the report itself may not be admissible as evidence in a later trial, having the accident report makes it much more difficult for the insurance company to dispute the facts of your case.
In addition to calling the police, it is important for you to obtain as much documentation as YOU can. You should write down the names and contact information of all witnesses. It is not uncommon for important witnesses to leave before the police arrive. Not obtaining this information could amount to allowing important evidence that could make a huge difference in your case walk away.
Another important way to document the accident at the scene is to take pictures. Photographs help to document where the accident occurred, damage to vehicles and the scene itself. Once the vehicles are removed and debris is cleaned up, this cannot be duplicated. Taking has never been easier. Almost everyone has a cell phone with a camera. Take as many photos of the scene of the crash, damage to vehicles, etc. as you can. These can be easily downloaded or even emailed to your attorney.
It can be difficult to remember this information especially if you were just involved in a car, truck, or motorcycle accident. If your nerves are shaken and you need some tips, please always feel free to call our office anytime at (480) 999-0646 and we will do our best to assist you. You can also check the short version of these tips summarized below:
1. CALL THE POLICE
Call the police no matter what. Even if you or others involved in the accident are not seriously injured you should call the police. Although the police are not perfect and can make mistakes they are usually accurate and their accident report can go a long way toward establishing who caused the accident and other vital information, including witnesses and insurance information.
2. WRITE DOWN IMPORTANT INFORMATION
Keep a notebook and pencil in your glove compartment so you can write down key information at the scene. The information you will want to obtain will include: witness names, phone numbers and addresses and the other driver’s insurance information. If you don’t have a notebook, use your phone. Many cell phones have note applications or other features that allow you to take down and store important information for later use.
3. TAKE PICTURES
Outside of calling the police, this may be the most important thing you can do at the scene of the accident. Most cell phones are now equipped with a camera making it easier than ever to take photographs at the accident scene. If your cell phone does not include a camera, get a disposable camera to keep in your glove-box. Take pictures of the vehicles involved in the accident, debris on the road, skid marks, etc. A picture is worth a thousand words. In an injury case, proper documentation could be worth thousands of dollars!